“Saviour siblings” also endorsed
New Zealanders should have access to sex selection through IVF, the New
Zealand Bioethics Council (or Toi Te Taiao in the Maori language) has
recommended. "We have not heard sufficient cultural, ethical or spiritual
concerns to justify banning it — providing PGD [prenatal genetic diagnosis] is
undertaken at the parents’ own cost," says the "Who Gets Born" report.
However, the council does believe that the public’s puzzling opposition to
sex selection warrants further investigation, as the idea seemed relatively
innocuous to its members. "Perhaps [these concerns] stem from a perception that
this is a comparatively trivial application for a technology with profound
implications, or they may be related to distaste for practices in some countries
where girl babies are routinely aborted or abandoned in favour of boys." The
council also recommended that parents be enabled to create "saviour siblings"
for sick children. At the moment, this is very restricted in New Zealand.
The discussion of bioethical issues in New Zealand has a dimension which is
lacking elsewhere. European – mostly British — stock (pakeha, in Maori) and
their culture dominate the country. It is as secular and socially progressive as
Britain, Australia, or most Western European countries. However, for historical
and legal reasons, all government decision-making has to take into account the
cultural values of the indigenous Maori people who tend to be far more sceptical
of liberal theories of autonomy and individual rights and more alert to their
genetic inheritance. Hence, Who Gets Born" reports candidly that Maoris
generally favour "the sanctity of human life" and take decisions collectively.
Nonetheless, the council appears to sidestep this and uses pakeha reasoning to
frame its proposal for government policy.
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